PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz put his athleticism, precision passing and quick decision-making on display all on one play.
The rookie quarterback dropped back on third-and-8, saw his first read covered, sidestepped a rusher, stepped up in the pocket, started to scramble, pump-faked, rolled to his right, stopped short of the line of scrimmage and floated a perfect pass down the right side to Darren Sproles.
The speedy Sproles turned it into a 73-yard, catch-and-run touchdown that will make all the highlights. But Wentz made it happen with his smarts and skills.
“Those are the kind of plays you can’t design,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “The players deserve credit for that in terms of having that kind of instinct and then executing.”
Wentz has the Philadelphia Eagles off to a 3-0 start. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t going to even dress for games until Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota eight days before the season opener.
He’s only three games into his career, but his preparation is becoming legendary. Coaches and teammates talk about Wentz arriving to the practice facility before 6 a.m.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews said he saw Wentz going to watch film at 8 a.m. Sunday at the team hotel.
“That’s his standard, even on game day,” Matthews said. “That’s who he is. We’re fortunate to have him.”
Wentz was 23 of 31 for 301 yards and two touchdowns in a dominating 34-3 victory over the Steelers (2-1) on Sunday. He still hasn’t committed a turnover.
“Everybody keeps waiting for that rookie mistake and it’s not happening,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “What he’s doing is special and it’s a testament to his preparation and demeanor.”
The Eagles were leading 13-3 in the third quarter when Wentz connected with Sproles. That play deflated Pittsburgh and sparked the rout.
“I was reading the other side of the field, a Steeler got in my way and I turned to scramble-mode,” Wentz said. “Sproles made a sweet turn up field and anytime you can put the ball in his hands, something special can happen.”
Wentz’s rapid emergence is the biggest surprise in the NFL. The Eagles were supposed to be a rebuilding team this season. Instead, they lead the NFC East and seem like favorites.
“When you’ve prepared so much, the game can slow down for you and good things happen,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Carson continues to make plays and protect the football.”
People were cautious to jump on the Wentz wagon after wins over the Browns and Bears, but a convincing victory over Pittsburgh caught everyone’s attention and sends Philadelphia riding high into a bye week.
“What Carson has done has been incredible and he really has elevated this whole offense to another level,” center Jason Kelce said.
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